Origins of Tzaneen

Greater Tzaneen Municipality is named after Tzaneen town which was surveyed and planned by H Manaschewitz, a surveyor, in 1919. It was in that year that a Certificate of Township Title was issued by the Government of the Union of South Africa, providing for a township called the Township of Tzaneen, thus the town was founded in the year 1919. This year, 2012, the town is 93 year old.

There are several theories regarding the origin of the name Tzaneen, all assuming that it is derived from the Sesotho language. The first theory is that the name originates from Batsaneng (meaning “People of the Small Village”) - a group who split away from the Bokgaga tribe.

Another theory is that the name is derived from the word tsaneng, which means “come together”, or tsana - meaning “basket of hills”. There is a theory which goes that the name Tzaneen came from the name Dzanani, the place where the vha-Venda lived many years ago. It is said that the whole area from Limpopo (Vhembe) river to the now called Olifants River was occupied by vha-Venda all the way until the side of Madzivhanombe (around Giyani).